Download Minimum Carbon Tax Level Needed to Prompt... Widespread Shift to Nuclear Power By

Survey
yes no Was this document useful for you?
   Thank you for your participation!

* Your assessment is very important for improving the work of artificial intelligence, which forms the content of this project

Document related concepts
no text concepts found
Transcript
Minimum Carbon Tax Level Needed to Prompt a
Widespread Shift to Nuclear Power
By
Katherine C. Thornton
Submitted to the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering
at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
June 2007
© 2007 Katherine Thornton
All Rights Reserved
The author hereby grants to MIT permission to reproduce and to distribute publicly paper
and electronic copies of this thesis document in whole or in part.
-),. %,-,.r.. .. .........
Katherine C. Thornton
Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering
May 18, 2007
Signature of Author: ....................
Certified by: ..........
,..,..
..............................
Andrew Kadak
Professor of the Practice, Nuclear Science and Engineering
Thesis Supervisor
Accepted by:
'"
•,,
..........................
... .....
........
...
d G. Cory
d Engineering
Professor of Nuclear Scie
Chairman, NSE Committee for Undergraduate Students
MASSACHUSETTS INS.riTUTG•T
OF TECHNOLOGY
OCT 12 2007
LIBRARIES
ARCHNIV
...........
Minimum Carbon Tax Level Needed to Prompt a
Widespread Shift to Nuclear Power
By
Katherine C. Thornton
Submitted to the Department of Nuclear Science and Engineering on
May 18, 2007 in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree
Of Bachelor of Science in Nuclear Science and Engineering
1. Abstract
Carbon dioxide is suspected to be a major contributor to global warming. In the United
States, nearly 70% of electricity is produced using coal or natural gas, both of which emit
carbon dioxide into the environment. Nuclear power, which does not emit any carbon
dioxide, produces 17% of the electricity consumed in the United States. In order to
persuade utilities to switch from coal or natural gas to nuclear power and thus reduce
carbon dioxide emissions, a carbon tax should be implemented. Depending on the cost of
construction for new nuclear plants and the level of savings that will incentivize utilities
to switch, the carbon tax needed to promote nuclear power will range between $20/tC and
$200/tC. The full range of carbon tax scenarios are developed in this thesis, with the
most likely carbon tax being $110/tC. This cost assumes a $1800/kw capital construction
cost and a 10% risk perception premium on the bus bar cost of power to address the
financial and industry community's somewhat negative perception of nuclear
investments. From a policy perspective, this carbon tax will be more effective in causing
utilities to move to nuclear power than a cap and trade policy. From a utility standpoint,
switching to nuclear power under a carbon tax is less expensive than implementing a
program of carbon capture and sequestration.
Thesis Supervisor: Andrew Kadak
Title: Professor of the Practice, Nuclear Science and Engineering
Table of Contents
1.
2.
3.
Ab stract .................................................................................................................. 2
Introduction.........................................................................................................
5
U.S. Energy Generation Sources and Carbon Emissions .................................. 8
3.1 C oal .................................................... ........................................................
.... 9
3.2 Natural Gas .................................................. .................................................. 10
3.3 Nuclear................................................................................................................. 11
3.4 The Effects of Carbon Dioxide ............................................ ............................. 12
4. Cost of Coal, Natural Gas, and Nuclear.............................................................. 15
4 .1 F uel C osts............................................................................................................. 15
........... 17
4.2 Operation and Maintenance Costs ....................................
4.3 Production Costs ............................................................................................... 17
19
4.4 Construction Costs ...............................................................................................
19
4.5 Total Cost of Natural Gas and Coal Electricity .....................
5. Electricity Economics......................................................................................... 19
5.1 The Risk Premium and the Total Cost of Nuclear Energy ............................... 20
5.2 Price Elasticity of Demand ..................................................... 21
23
6. Calculating the Carbon Tax .....................................................
6.1 Carbon Tax to Equate Nuclear with Coal and Nuclear with Natural Gas ........... 23
25
6.2 Overall Carbon Tax..............................................................................................
7. Other Considerations in Calculating the Carbon Tax................................... 27
....
.............. 28
7.1 Advantages in Switching to Nuclear..............................
........... 29
7.2 Disadvantages in Switching to Nuclear.................................
7.3 Advantage and Disadvantage Effects on the Carbon Tax ................................ 30
8. Recalculating the Carbon Tax.............................................................................. 30
8.1 Carbon Tax- 5%, 10%, and 20% ............................................................
31
8.1.1 C oal ..................................................................................................... . ....... 3 1
8.1.2 Natural Gas .................................................................................................
32
8.1.3 Overall Carbon Tax....................................................................................
32
9. An Alternative for Utilities- Carbon Capture and Sequestration ....................... 33
9.1 Carbon Capture ................................................................... ............................ 34
9.2 Carbon Transport ............................................................ ..... 35
9.3 Carbon Storage...................................................................................................... 36
9.3.1 Geological Storage...................................................... 36
9.3.2 Ocean Storage ................................................................................................ 37
9.3.3 Mineral Storage.......................................... .............................................. 38
9.4 Cost ..................................................
39
10. An Alternative for Policy Makers--Cap and Trade .................................... . 40
10.1 Current Cap and Trade Systems ..................................... .....
............ 42
10. 1.1 European Union .......................................... ........................................... 42
10.1.2 United States ........................................................................................
43
10.2 Cost ................................................................................................................... 43
11. Conclusion ....................................................................................................
44
References...........................
.....
...................
........................ 45
List of Figures and Tables
Figure 1: Carbon Dioxide Emissions in Million Metric Tons from 1998 to 2005 ........ 6
Figure 2: Proportions of Energy Sources Consumed in the United States.................... 8
Figure 3: Proportions of Electricity Sources Consumed in the United States .............. 9
Figure 4: Level of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere since 1960 ............................ 13
Figure 5: Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere since 2003 .................................. 14
Figure 6: Monthly Natural Gas Fuel Cost from March 2006 to March 2007................ 15
Figure 7: Average Weekly Coal Commodity Spot Prices from 2003 to 2007.......... 16
Figure 8: Decreasing Cost of Uranium, 1995-2005 ....................................................... 17
...... 18
Figure 9: U.S. Electricity Production Costs................................ ...
Figure 10: Carbon Dioxide Capture Processes ........................................ 35
Figure 11: Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide .................................................... 37
Figure 12: Ocean Storage of Carbon Dioxide........................... 38
Figure 13: Carbon Dioxide Production for a Dirty Coal Plant and a Clean Coal
40
P lant ....................................................................
Table 1: Percent of Production Cost due to Fuel and due to O&M for Natural Gas,
C oal, and N uclear.................................................................................. ...
Table 2: Cost of Nuclear Energy for Different Construction Costs ..............................
Table 3: Price Elasticity of Demand for Electricity ..................... .. ....................
Table 4: Carbon Tax to Equate Costs of Nuclear and Coal Energy and Carbon
Tax to Equate Costs of Nuclear and Natural Gas Energy .................................
Table 5: Carbon Tax to Equate Costs of Nuclear and Natural Gas Energy for
Varying Costs of Natural Gas...................................................
Table 6: Effects of the Carbon Tax that Equates Costs of Nuclear and Natural Gas
Energy ......................................
18
21
22
24
25
26
Table 7: Effects of the Carbon Tax that Equates Costs of Nuclear and Coal Energy ...26
Table 8: Carbon Tax that Must be Exceeded in Order to Prompt a Switch to Nuclear
................. 27
Energy ....................................
Table 9: Carbon Tax to Make Cost of Nuclear Energy 5%, 10%, and 20% Less than
31
Cost of Coal Energy ......................................
Table 10: Carbon Tax to Make Cost of Nuclear Energy 5%, 10%, and 20% Less than
Cost of N atural G as Energy ....................................................... ....................... 32
Table 11: Carbon Tax that Must be Exceeded in Order to Prompt a Switch to Nuclear
Electricity when the Requirement for Switching is a 5%, 10%, or 20% Price
Reduction ...................
..........................
33
2. Introduction
A Pigovian tax is used to limit negative externalities in society. Commonly referred to as
sin taxes, such taxes are used by all 50 states to raise revenue from the sale of alcohol and
cigarettes.
Pigovian taxes can also be applied to producers who release harmful
byproducts into the environment. This type of tax is a pollution tax, and it has two
purposes. First, it is intended to encourage producers to reduce their pollutions and
second, it can raise money to help fight the effects of pollution.
This pollution tax is thought to be a better way of reducing pollutants than the more
straightforward government regulation. With regulation, a polluter can release a certain
set amount of pollutants into the environment at no cost to him, and he has no incentive
to lower his .emissions below the set regulation rate. With a tax, however, there is a
charge on all emitted pollutants. Therefore, although regulation can lower pollutants to a
government regulated set level, a pollution tax, if set at the proper level, will always give
producers an incentive to keep reducing their pollution.
One type of pollution tax, the carbon tax, is especially relevant to the future of nuclear
power.
Release of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere is judged to be the main
contributor to global warming. In 2005, over 2.5 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide
were released during power generation in the United States [1]. As seen in Figure 1, this
is almost 300 million metric tons higher than the carbon dioxide release in 1999, just six
years earlier.
Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 1998-2005
2
S2500
2450
" 2400
W2350
Ri 2300
2250
.B
2200
2150
1996
1998
2000
2002
Year
2004
2006
Figure 1. Carbon Dioxide Emissions in Million Metric Tons from 1998 to 2005 [1].
The damage done by CO2 emissions to the atmosphere is being researched by many
universities and organizations. Preliminary reports do not agree on an estimate of the
marginal damage costs of these emissions. By combining 28 published studies, the
marginal damage estimates had a mode of $2/tC, a median of $14/tC, and a mean of
$93/tC. The 95 t percentile rose to $350/tC [2]. This range aside, experts from Germany,
the Netherlands, and the United States agree that the marginal damage costs are unlikely
to exceed $50/tC and argue that a carbon tax should be set accordingly [2]. Economic
experts, however, argue that marginal damage costs are closer to $85/tC [3], and they
assert that the carbon tax must match this value. Regardless, while these prices would
generate revenue from carbon dioxide emissions, research has not been done to determine
if they are high enough to incentivize utilities to switch from fossil fuels to non-carbon
dioxide emitting power generation.
While it is necessary to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, there is no known way to
convert coal, oil, and natural gases into energy without creating carbon dioxide. There
are, however, a few options to reduce carbon dioxide emissions from current plants.
First, research could develop new technologies to increase the efficiency of new or
current coal and oil plants. Second, a higher reliance on natural gas would help to reduce
carbon dioxide release, as natural gas emits less carbon dioxide than coal or oil plants.
While both of these solutions would somewhat reduce emissions, neither would be able
to completely reduce carbon dioxide pollution [4]. A third method involves capturing
carbon dioxide and permanently storing it. At this time, capture and sequestration is not
economically feasible, as it is predicted to cost up to an additional 5 cents/kwhr [5],
which would almost double the current costs of coal and natural gas.
There are also alternative ways to generate power that do not release any carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere. One of these is nuclear power. Through analyzing costs of coal,
natural gas, and nuclear energy production, the minimum level of carbon tax needed to
incentivize power production companies to switch to nuclear power can be calculated.
By either shutting down existing coal and natural gas plants and replacing them with new
nuclear plants, or by simply building new nuclear plants instead of coal and natural gas
plants, a carbon tax will promote nuclear power and reduce carbon dioxide emissions.
3. U.S. Energy Generation Sources and Carbon Emissions
In 2005, United States energy consumption was 100.6 quadrillion Btu [6], making the
United States the largest energy consumer in the world.
Total US Energy Consumption by Type
I Coal 22.6%
U Natural Gas 22.7%
Oil 40.5%
MNuclear 8.1%
U Renewable 6.2%
Figure 2. Proportions of Energy Sources Consumed in the United States 16].
As seen in Figure 2, the main source of energy for the United States is oil. The United
States imports most of its oil, as it produces just over 8 million barrels a day, while
consuming roughly 20 million barrels per day [7, 8]. Oil, however, is mostly used in
industrial and transportation sectors, and is only used to generate about 3% of United
States electricity. It is therefore valuable to look instead at US electricity consumption to
better understand the proportions between coal, natural gas, and nuclear.
proportions are shown in Figure 3.
These
Total US Electricity Consumption by Type
M Coal 49.7%
i Natural Gas 18.7%
Oil 3.0%
8 Nuclear 19.3%
SOther 9.3%
Figure 3. Proportions of Electricity Sources Consumed in the United States [9].
3.1 Coal
Coal is the most common source of electricity production, accounting for almost half of
all electricity produced in the United States. In 2005, coal alone produced over 2 billion
megawatt-hours [9]. Coal's popularity is due to its two important advantages. First,
there is a plentiful supply of coal. The U.S. Geological Survey estimates the United
States has a coal reserve as large as four trillion tons [10], which at current consumption
levels would last for 200 years. Second, the cost of coal is relatively low, and because
very little coal is imported, the price is not vulnerable to international relations, making
the price of coal very stable.
But coal also has its disadvantages. First, coal is not renewable. The other disadvantage
is the large amount of CO2 that is released when coal is burned. Producing 2.5 billion
tons of carbon dioxide a year, coal-burning power plants are the largest source of carbon
dioxide pollution in the United States [11]. For each kilowatt-hour of coal power, 2.095
pounds of carbon dioxide, or 0.571 pounds of pure carbon, are released into the
environment [112].
3.2 Natural Gas
The next most common fossil fuel is natural gas, which accounts for nearly 20% of US
electricity production. In 2005, natural gas produced over 750,000 megawatt-hours in the
United States [9]. Natural gas has its advantages due largely to its ease of use, low
capital cost, and short construction time to bring generation on-line. At the current rate
of consumption, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there only is a 50-year supply
of recoverable, undiscovered natural gas in the United States alone [13].
Natural gas also has disadvantages. Even though the supply is judged to be plentiful
either in natural or liquefied form, natural gas prices experience large fluctuations [14].
Pipelines to transport natural gas are very expensive to build and maintain. Second,
natural gas is flammable and strict precautions have to be taken during transport and use.
The last disadvantage to using natural gas for power production is often looked at as an
advantage. Natural gas produces carbon dioxide when burned. But because it produces
less carbon dioxide as coal, natural gas proponents describe the lower carbon dioxide
output as an advantage.
In reality, any amount of carbon dioxide released into the
environment is a disadvantage. For each kilowatt-hour of natural gas energy, 1.314
pounds of carbon dioxide, or 0.358 pounds of pure carbon, are released into the
environment [112].
3.3 Nuclear
Nearly 20% of US electricity produced comes from nuclear power plants. In 2005,
nuclear energy plants generated slightly over 780,000 megawatt-hours [9].
advantages and disadvantages of nuclear power are widely debated.
The
In the 1970's,
nuclear power reached a peak in popularity, before the partial meltdown at Three Mile
Island reduced public support. There are, however, many advantages to nuclear power
that cannot be easily dismissed. First, nuclear fuel is found around the world, with 17
countries, including the United States, Australia, and Canada, producing concentrated
uranium oxides [15]. Second, nuclear power production does not release any carbon
dioxide into the atmosphere. This is a unique advantage over coal and natural gas.
The disadvantages of nuclear power are more open to debate. Many people are afraid of
nuclear power, because they think there is a high chance of a meltdown leading to
radioactive emissions, which will harm the public. Second is the issue of the disposal of
nuclear waste. Currently, in addition to on-site storage, the only solution in the United
States to dealing with nuclear waste is the proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca
Mountain, Nevada, which is over 20 years behind schedule.
For the future, new
technologies are being developed to turn nuclear waste into nuclear fuel. Although the
overall cost of nuclear today is higher than that of fossil fuels, if carbon sequestration is
required, this will change.
3.4 The Effects of CarbonDioxide
Greenhouse gases are a primary cause of global warming.
Increasing levels of
greenhouse gases, such as water vapor, methane, carbon dioxide, and nitrous oxide, are
causing higher temperatures across the world.
When light energy comes from the sun to the Earth, it is able to pass through the
atmosphere and bring heat to the Earth. Heat from the Earth, however, is a different
wavelength than sunlight. When the heat from the Earth reaches the atmosphere, it is not
able to pass through.
Instead, it is absorbed by carbon dioxide, causing the carbon
dioxide to move to an unstable, excited state. When the molecule becomes stable again,
it releases the energy it has absorbed. Some of this energy goes into space, and some
comes back to Earth. Essentially, carbon dioxide allows the heat from the sun in, but it
doesn't let the Earth's heat out. It causes the atmosphere to work like a greenhouse [16].
Since the Industrial Revolution, the level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has been
rising. The rise in the past 200 years is illustrated in Figure 4. Carbon release per year
has gone from a negligible amount to almost 7000 million metric tons [17]. Increasing
industrialization relies on fossil fuels, causing an increase in carbon dioxide levels.
"'I.',
b.
O
%A
0
C
10
C
0
C
I-0
._o
1800
1850
1900
1950
2000
Figure 4. Level of Carbon Dioxide in the Atmosphere since 1800 [17].
Carbon dioxide levels fluctuate seasonally, due to plant absorption and release, but the
overall trend is clear. As of January 2007, carbon dioxide levels had reached 393ppm in
the Earth's atmosphere, up approximately 105ppm from pre-Industrial Revolution levels
[18]. In the past 50 years, carbon dioxide concentration has risen over 50 parts per
million. Even more recently, in the past 5 years alone, the average level of carbon
dioxide has been rising about 2.25ppm per year, as seen in Figure 5.
F
386
382
z
8
376
374
372
2003
2004
2006
2006
2007
2008
YEAR
Figure 5. Carbon Dioxide Levels in the Atmosphere since 2003 [19].
Carbon dioxide levels are increasing at an alarming rate. Scientific evidence clearly
shows the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere to its highest levels ever
recorded. Many believe that this increase in carbon dioxide levels is a primary cause of
global warming. Whether this global warming is simply a cyclical event or whether it is
caused by increased environmental greenhouse gas emissions is hotly debated in
scientific and political circles.
In any case, many advocate the reduction of carbon
dioxide emissions. The Kyoto Protocol calls for such reductions and controls [20].
Unfortunately, many nations have not been successful in meeting these goals and global
carbon dioxide levels continue to increase. In the United States, 98% of all carbon
dioxide released into the atmosphere is the result of burning fossil fuels to make power
[21]. A decreased dependence on fossil fuels will undoubtedly reduce carbon dioxide
emissions.
4. Cost of Coal, Natural Gas, and Nuclear
To encourage a shift from fossil fuels to non-carbon dioxide emitting sources such as
nuclear energy in the electricity generating sector, a carbon tax can be used. The
magnitude of a carbon tax that will incentivize utilities to switch to nuclear power is
dependent on the costs of coal, natural gas, and nuclear electricity.
4.1 Fuel Costs
Calculating the cost of fuel is the most difficult part in determining the cost of electricity,
because of the large fluctuations in some fuel prices. As seen in Figure 6, the price of
natural gas varies considerably, with last year's average at $6.52/MMBtu, or
$0.022/kwhr.
Natural Gas Henry Hub Spot Prices
(Base Case and 95% Confidence Interval*)
Forecast
1
1
IA
t
I
12
10
I,
-
Dpllaru
6
per
ouand
hut
cubic feet
420
Jan-
Jan.04
Jan-
Jun-0
Jan
JanA8N
Jan409
Figure 6. Natural Gas Fuel Cost from 2003 to 2009 [22].
The price of coal is much more stable, as shown in Figure 7. The fuel costs for a coal
power plant was $0.0176/kwhr in 2006 [23].
j
Key to Coa Commod•Iee bl RelIn'
entral
aAaaiha
3g1Sadp
dranaa 142,500t•.L
12UbSO2hnlmt
NormApalasir
hbBla
~
13.000tu.3.0lbSO2nmBwu
Ptsburgh Seamn
b SO2Anwt
1t800 tu. .01
Powdur Rive Basir
Basinnlo.:
Uinwa
8.800 Stu 0.8b SO2InmmSu
11.n0e8a. 8IbS02•mmttu
Figure 7. Average Weekly Coal Commodity Spot Prices from 2003 to 2007 [241.
Finally, the cost of uranium is steadily decreasing, as seen in Figure 8. The cost of
uranium in 2006 was $0.0045/kwhr [23].
cI
N-IF
C'::;
Oý66
00.6 73
06
i
0a
Figure 8. Decreasing Cost of Uranium, 1995-2005 [23].
4.2 Operation and Maintenance Costs
Operation and maintenance (O&M) costs for coal, oil, and nuclear power plants include
cost of labor, materials and supplies (excluding fuel), contractor services, licensing fees,
and other miscellaneous costs, including employee expenses and regulatory fees.
Because O&M costs do not include fuel, they are much less susceptible to fluctuations in
the market and international relations. The O&M cost for natural gas is $0.0045/kwhr,
for coal is $0.0049/kwhr, and for nuclear is $0.0127/kwhr [23].
4.3 Production Costs
Another commonly used cost to compare different power producing methods is the
production cost. The production cost includes the total fuel and O&M costs. The
production cost, then, for natural gas is $0.0265/kwhr, for coal is $0.0225/kwhr, and for
nuclear is $0.0172/kwhr. Although the O&M cost for nuclear is much higher than that
for natural gas and coal, the overall production cost of nuclear is much lower than the
other two. As seen in Table 1, the production cost of nuclear power is O&M dominated,
while the production costs of coal and natural gas are fuel dominated.
Fuel
O&M
Natural Gas
83.0%
17.0%
Coal
78.2%
21.8%
Nuclear
26.2%
73.8%
Table 1. Percent of Production Cost due to Fuel and due to O&M for Natural Gas,
Coal, and Nuclear.
Figure 9 shows total production costs for nuclear, coal, and natural gas in 2005. Prices
are in cents/kwhr.
Figure 9. U.S. Electricity Production Costs [231.
4.4 ConstructionCosts
The cost of constructing a new power plant can vary greatly among the different
generating options. The capital cost of natural gas plants is the lowest of the three being
considered, with nuclear power being the highest. The cost of new nuclear plants is the
most uncertain since none have been built in the United States in the last 25 years.
Generally, a natural gas plant costs between $400 and $800 per kW, a pulverized coal
plant costs between $1000 and $1500 per kW, and a nuclear plant costs between $1200
and $2000 per kW [23]. The cost of coal plants can easily become much higher than
these estimates. The $1000 to $1500 per kW estimate is for pulverized coal plants, but if
sequestration is included, costs will rise above $2000 per kW [25].
4.5 Total Cost of Natural Gas and Coal Electricity
When the capital, O&M, and fuel costs are added together, the total cost of electricity
(bus bar cost) for natural gas and coal plants is $0.0051/kwhr1 and $0.042/kwhr,
respectively [26], and the cost for nuclear plants is estimated to be between $0.047 and
$0.067/kwhr.
5. Electricity Economics
The price of these generating options includes a risk premium, particularly in the capital
cost calculation. This risk premium reflects the future viability of the plant in terms of
The cost of coal electricity is taken from The Future of Nuclear Power. For natural gas,
this report assumes a fuel cost of $0.0012/kwhr, which is significantly lower than current
cost estimates. The cost of natural gas electricity was found by modifying the report's
estimate to account for the difference in fuel costs.
competing, operating, long term profit potential, and fuel supply interruptions.
In
determining the price of nuclear energy, the perceived risk of nuclear technology is
considered. This perceived risk is included in the price of nuclear power through the risk
premium as reflected in the cost of capital. The second economic factor is price elasticity
of demand.
A carbon tax changes the price of electricity, and it is important to
understand the impact price changes have on consumer demand.
5.1 The Risk Premium and the Total Cost of NuclearElectricity
A risk premium is the return of a company stock minus the risk-free rate. In other words,
the risk premium is the difference between the expected value of an uncertain investment
and the known value of a certain investment. For a natural gas or coal power plant,
investors require a 12% return on equity. The required return for nuclear power is higher,
mainly due to the concerns regarding construction costs (delays, new cost estimates, etc.)
and operational risks. Because of this risk, the required return is 15%, making the risk
premium for nuclear power 3% [27].
Because the cost of construction for nuclear power plants is uncertain (unlike the
construction cost for natural gas and coal), the price of nuclear generated electricity
varies, depending on the assumed construction cost. Table 2 shows the cost of nuclear
energy, including risk premium, for varying levels of construction cost.
Construction Cost per kW
$1200
Overall Cost per kwhr
$0.047
$1500
$0.054
$1800
$0.062
$2000
$0.0672
Table 2. Cost of Nuclear Energy for Different Construction Costs [26, 281.
5.2 PriceElasticity of Demand
In order to assess the impact of an increase in price of electricity on the demand if carbon
taxes are implemented, it is important to understand the price elasticity of demand.
Should the price increase be high enough to reduce demand significantly, the chance of
successful implementation of a carbon tax will be reduced.
The price elasticity of
demand indicates the relationship between the change in price and the change in quantity
demanded of a commodity. It is defined by the following equation:
Ed
%Aquantity demanded
%Aprice
Based on this value, goods are determined to be either elastic or inelastic. If Ed is greater
than one, the good is said to relatively elastic. Elastic goods are those for which many
substitutes exist. If the price rises, people will stop purchasing the commodity, or switch
to a substitute good. If Ed is less than one, the good is inelastic. Many things can cause a
commodity to be considered inelastic. For example, addictions, small quantity goods,
and necessities are all usually inelastic. If Ed is greater than one, a good is elastic. For a
This cost of nuclear power with an assumed construction cost of $2000/kW is taken
from The Future of Nuclear Power. All other costs are taken from The Economic Future
of Nuclear Power.
2
good with many substitutes, a price increase will cause people to switch to another good.
Conversely, if there is a price decrease, the quantity demanded of the good will rise. This
is important when considering a carbon tax. Taxes cause prices to rise, and if a good is
elastic, the demand for that good will fall. In the case of a carbon tax, higher prices may
reduce the demand for electricity, which would not be good for utilities but good for the
environment, if it would reduce the emissions from fossil fuel plants.
Table 3 shows the price elasticity of demand for electricity in the short run and in the
long run, in both the residential and commercial sectors. The short run shows the affects
of a price increase on a day-to-day or week-to-week basis, while the long run looks at
price increases that last for years.
Residential Sector
Commercial Sector
Short Run
0.23
0.24
Long Run
0.31
0.25
Table 3. Price Elasticity of Demand for Electricity [29].
In both sectors, and in both the short and long run, electricity is inelastic. Most likely,
this is because electricity is an essential commodity.
This information is important,
because when considering the effects of the carbon tax, the change in price will have very
little effect on the quantity demanded. Electricity is inelastic, so it is not necessary to
evaluate changes in demand when increasing the price.
6. Calculating the Carbon Tax
On simply an economic level, a utility will switch to nuclear power if it is less expensive
than the alternatives. In calculating the carbon tax, the first step is to find the tax that will
make the cost of nuclear equal to the cost of coal or natural gas.
6.1 Carbon Tax to Equate Nuclear with Coal and Nuclear with Natural Gas
The carbon tax to equate the cost of nuclear electricity and coal energy is first calculated
in dollars per kilowatt-hour, using the following equation:
cost of nuclear = cost offossil alternative + cost of carbon tax
(2)
where the cost of coal is $0.042/kwhr, the cost of natural gas is $0.05 l1/kwhr, and the cost
of nuclear varies based on assumed construction cost.
The carbon tax is then converted to dollars per metric ton of carbon by dividing by the
carbon output rate of using coal to produce electricity, as seen in the following formula:
tax [dollars/kwhrl
carbon output rate [metric ton/kwhr]
(3)
where the carbon output rate is 0.5711bs/kwhr, or 2.59xlOt/kwhr, for coal and
0.3581bs/kwhr, or 1.62x10 4 t/kwhr, for natural gas [12].
For the varying costs of nuclear energy, the carbon taxes needed to equate the price of
nuclear with coal and nuclear with natural gas at current prices are listed in Table 4.
Construction Cost
for Nuclear Plant
($/kW)
Cost of Nuclear
Energy ($/kwhr)
Carbon Tax to
Equate Coal and
Nuclear ($/tC)
Carbon Tax to
Equate Natural
Gas and Nuclear
($/tC)3
1200
0.047
19.30
--
1500
0.054
46.33
18.47
1800
2000
0.062
0.067
77.22
96.52
67.74
98.53
Table 4. Carbon Tax to Equate Costs of Nuclear and Coal Energy and Carbon Tax
to Equate Nuclear and Natural Gas Energy.
When the cost of construction of a nuclear power plant is $1200/kW, the cost of nuclear
energy is $0.047/kwhr. This is less expensive than the cost of natural gas energy, which
is $0.051/kwhr. Therefore, no carbon tax is needed to make nuclear energy the cost
effective option. The cost of natural gas generated electricity is also a highly variable
parameter due to the fact that over 70% of the price of electricity is dependent on its
price. Table 5 shows the carbon tax needed to equate nuclear at $2000/kw capital
construction cost at varying natural gas prices that have existed in the lat 5 years. This
table shows that the carbon tax policy needs to consider several important factors prior to
its establishment, since the price of fossil fuels themselves may drive utilities to nuclear
energy on their own. Although the price of coal is less volatile, it too has market
fluctuations that need to be considered.
* At current natural gas price of $0.051/kwhr.
Construction
Cost for Nuclear
Plant ($/kW)
Cost of Nuclear
Energy ($/kwhr)
Cost of Natural
Gas Energy
($/kwhr)
Carbon Tax to
Equate Natural
Gas and Nuclear
($/tC)
2000
0.067
0.046
$129.63
2000
0.067
0.051
2000
2000
2000
0.067
0.067
0.067
0.056
0.067
0.077
$98.53
$67.90
---
Table 5. Carbon Tax to Equate Costs of Nuclear and Natural Gas Energy for
Varying Costs of Natural Gas.
When natural gas costs $0.067/kwhr, the cost of natural gas and nuclear energy
generation are equal. When the cost of natural gas rises past this cost, nuclear energy is
less expensive than natural gas, without any carbon tax in place.
6.2 Overall Carbon Tax
To determine the level of carbon tax needed to switch from fossil fuels to nuclear, the tax
must be set high enough to equate nuclear costs with the lowest fossil fuel cost. This will
motivate utilities to switch to nuclear, instead of choosing the least expensive fossil fuel.
As seen in Table 6, if the carbon tax which equates nuclear and natural gas energy is
used, the cheapest method of electricity production is not always nuclear. At the first
three costs of nuclear energy, slightly exceeding the calculated carbon tax will cause not
a switch from natural gas to nuclear, but from natural gas to coal.
Resultant
Carbon Tax
to Equate Price of Coal
Energy
Natural
($/kwhr)
Gas and
Nuclear
($/tC)4
Cheapest
Source of
Electricity
Construction
Cost for
Nuclear
Plant
($/kW)
Cost of
Nuclear
Energy
($/kwhr)
1200
0.047
--
0.042
Coal
1500
1800
0.054
0.062
18.47
67.74
0.047
0.060
Coal
Coal
2000
0.067
98.53
0.068
Nuclear/
Natural Gas
Table 6. Effects of the Carbon Tax that Equates Costs of Nuclear and Natural Gas
Energy.
Conversely, the calculated carbon tax to equate the costs of nuclear electricity and coal
electricity can cause a switch to natural gas, as seen in Table 7. Again, the carbon tax is
highly variable, depending on the current price on natural gas.
Construction
Cost for
Nuclear
Plant
($/kW)
Cost of
Nuclear
Energy
($/kwhr)
Carbon
Tax to
Equate
Coal and
Nuclear
Resultant
Price of
Natural
Gas Energy
($/kwhr)
Cheapest Source of
Electricity
($/tC)
1200
1500
1800
0.047
0.054
0.062
19.30
46.33
77.22
0.054
0.059
0.064
Nuclear/Coal
Nuclear/Coal
Nuclear/Coal
2000
0.067
96.52
0.067
Nuclear/Coal/Natural
Gas
Table 7. Effects of the Carbon Tax that Equates Costs of Nuclear and Coal Energy.
4 At current natural gas price of $0.05 1/kwhr.
The minimum carbon tax must always be the higher of the two values. Therefore, the
carbon tax that must be exceeded to incentivize a utility to switch to nuclear power is
seen in Table 8. The important assumption in applying this carbon tax is that if nuclear
power is less expensive, by even the smallest amount, a utility will switch from current
methods to nuclear power. This assumption is not necessarily correct.
Cost of Nuclear Energy
($/kwhr)
0.047
0.054
0.062
0.067
Cost of Carbon Tax to Make Nuclear
Equal to the Least Expensive Method
of Electricity Production ($/tC)
19.30
46.33
77.22
98.53
Table 8. Carbon Tax that Must Be Exceeded in Order to Prompt a Switch to
Nuclear Electricity.
7. Other Considerations in Calculating the Carbon Tax
It is likely that if the cost of nuclear electricity were equal to the cost of a utility's current
method of electricity generation, the utility would not switch to nuclear. To decide how
much cheaper nuclear must be in order to incentivize a utility to make the switch, the
pros and cons of nuclear power, as seen from the utility's viewpoint, must be analyzed.
7.1 Advantages in Switching to Nuclear
* Long-Term Price Stability-As discussed earlier, nuclear energy not only has the
lowest fuel cost, but also the most stable. This fuel stability gives utilities longterm price stability. Long-term price stability allows utilities to sell at a premium
a guaranteed source of electricity at a determined price to consumers. Currently,
in California, consumers are paying a premium for future electricity in order to
shield themselves from possible price spikes in the energy market [30].
* Plant Lifetime-New technologies allow safe operation of nuclear power plants
for up to 60 years [31], while most coal and natural gas plants are traditionally
operated for 40 years.
* Fuel Supply-The current uranium supply is predicted to last at least 50 years
with cost effective mining.
By this time, breeder technologies can be
implemented in order to minimize dependence on uranium mining. There is no
technology, however, to breed coal or natural gas. The supply is limited. Nuclear
energy will not be hampered by a limited fuel supply.
* Emission Controls-Generating nuclear energy does not release carbon dioxide
into the atmosphere. This means implementing or raising a carbon tax will never
affect the cost of nuclear energy.
In addition, if a cap-and-trade system is
implemented with credit being given to nuclear energy, utilities using nuclear
energy will be able to raise revenue by selling carbon dioxide allowances [32].
7.2 Disadvantages in Switching to Nuclear
* Licensing and Regulatory Uncertainties-A nuclear plant applying for a license in
2008 would not be able to begin construction until 2011 and would not begin
operating until 2016 [33]. This means that utilities must consider nuclear energy
close to ten years before they plan to implement nuclear reactors. In addition,
some plant improvements, such as digital upgrades, can result in technical and
regulatory delays and uncertainties.
* Initial Capital Cost-The initial capital cost of a nuclear power plant is much
higher than that of natural gas or coal. A nuclear power plant costs between
$1200 and $2000 per kW, while a coal power plant costs between $1000 and
$1500, and a natural gas plant costs only $400 to $800. This high initial capital
cost forces a utility to borrow large amounts of money and cause the company to
acquire substantial debts, affecting its credit rating and ability to borrow funds.
* Public Opinion-In a 2005 survey, a record-high 70% of Americans supported
nuclear energy. But conversely, 24% of Americans still do not support nuclear
power [34]. A utility concerned with its public profile may see this disapproval
rate as too high to go forth with building nuclear power plants. Local and state
political reaction may cause substantial project delays. The issue of the disposal
of nuclear waste also affects public support for increasing dependence on nuclear
energy as a future source of electricity.
* Wall Street Reaction-Public opinion can also influence the value of a utility's
stock. Because Wall Street's reaction determines so much of a company's worth,
a utility must seriously consider how building nuclear plants will affect its stock.
* Overall Risk Perception-In addition to the risk premium, utilities may be
reluctant to switch to nuclear power simply because there is a perceived risk
associated with it. Nuclear technology still seems unsafe and unpredictable to
many people. The perception of risk affects all indicators noted above.
7.3 Advantage and DisadvantageEffects on the Carbon Tax
It is likely that for many utilities, the disadvantages of nuclear power outweigh the
advantages, even if nuclear energy was equal to the costs of alternatives. To incentivize
these utilities to shift towards nuclear, nuclear electricity must be a certain percentage
less expensive than its fossil fuel counterparts.
The next section will analyze the
necessary carbon tax to bring nuclear power costs to a level that would be hard to ignore
when choosing between nuclear power and fossil fuel alternatives particularly as it affects
a utility's competitive position and the opinions of state regulatory authorities who
attempt to keep the cost of electricity as low as possible for the consumer.
8. Recalculating the Carbon Tax
It is currently unknown exactly how much less expensive nuclear energy must be in order
to incentivize utilities to switch from their current energy production method. In this
section, the carbon tax is calculated to make nuclear energy 5%, 10% and 20% less
expensive than the alternatives, to determine if the tax is credible and possible in the
battle against carbon dioxide emissions.
8.1 Carbon Trx-S%, 10%, and 20%
The carbon tax to make the cost of nuclear energy less expensive than current methods is
first calculated in dollars per kilowatt-hour, using the following equations for 5%, 10%,
and 20%, respectively:
cost of nuclear = 0.95*cost of current method + cost of carbon tax
(4)
cost of nuclear = 0.90*cost of currentmethod + cost of carbon tax
(5)
cost of nuclear = 0.80*cost of currentmethod + cost of carbon tax
(6)
Equation 3 is then used to convert the tax from dollars per kilowatt-hour to dollars per ton
of carbon released.
8.1.1 Coal
The carbon tax levels to make the cost of nuclear energy 5% less than the cost of coal
electricity are listed in Table 9.
Construction
Cost for
Nuclear Power
Plant ($/kW)
Cost of
Nuclear
Energy
($/kwhr)
Carbon Tax Carbon Tax Carbon Tax
to Make
to Make
to Make
Nuclear 5% Nuclear 10% Nuclear 20%
Cheaper than Cheaper than Cheaper than
Coal ($/tC)
Coal ($/tC)
Coal ($/tC)
28.86
39.47
64.67
1200
0.047
1500
0.054
57.31
69.50
98.46
1800
2000
0.062
89.81
103.82
137.07
0.067
110.14
125.38
161.20
Table 9. Carbon Tax to Make Cost of Nuclear Energy 5%, 10%, and 20% Less
than Cost of Coal Energy.
8.1.2 Natural Gas
The carbon tax levels to make the cost of nuclear energy 5%, 10%, and 20% less than the
cost of natural gas energy are listed in Table 10.
Construction
Cost of
Nuclear
Power Plant
($/kW)
Cost of
Nuclear
Energy
($/kwhr)
Carbon Tax
Carbon Tax
to Make
to Make
Nuclear 5% Nuclear 10%
Cheaper than Cheaper than
Natural Gas
Natural Gas
Carbon Tax
to Make
Nuclear 20%
Cheaper than
Natural Gas
($/tC)
($/tC)
($/tC)
1200
0.047
--
39.47
47.73
1500
0.054
35.98
69.50
101.61
1800
0.062
87.83
110.16
163.19
2000
0.067
120.25
144.38
201.68
Table 10. Carbon Tax to Make Cost of Nuclear Energy 5%, 10%, and 20% Less
than Cost of Natural Gas Energy.
At the least expensive level, nuclear energy is already 5% less expensive than that of
natural gas.
8.1.3 Overall Carbon Tax
The carbon taxes to make nuclear energy the cheapest method of electricity production
by at least 5%are listed in Table 11.
____~_
Construction
Cost of
Nuclear
Power Plant
Cost of
Nuclear
Energy
($/kwhr)
($/kW)
1200
1500
1800
2000
0.047
0.054
0.062
0.067
Cost of
Cost of
Carbon Tax
Carbon Tax
to Make
to Make
Nuclear 5% Nuclear 10%
Cheaper than Cheaper than
the Least
the Least
Expensive
Expensive
Method of
Method of
Electricity
Electricity
Production
Production
($/tC)
($/tC)
28.86
39.47
57.31
69.50
110.16
89.82
120.25
144.38
Cost of
Carbon Tax
to Make
Nuclear 20%
Cheaper than
the Least
Expensive
Method of
Electricity
Production
($/tC)
64.67
101.61
163.19
201.68
Table 11. Carbon Tax that Must Be Exceeded in Order to Prompt a Switch to
Nuclear Electricity when the Requirement for Switching is a 5%, 10% or 20% Price
Reduction.
If nuclear power plants can be constructed for $1200 per kW, utilities will switch to
nuclear, even if they require 20% savings to make that switch, at a carbon tax level of
less than $70 per ton of carbon emissions. This is less than the marginal damage cost
average estimate of $93/tC. If politicians see that estimate as an acceptable level for
setting a carbon tax, even the most risk sensitive utilities will likely switch to nuclear
power.
9. An Alternative for Utilities-Carbon Capture and Sequestration
If a carbon tax is implemented, there is a way that utilities can continue to use coal or
natural gas and not be greatly affected by the tax. Utilities can use carbon sequestration
to generate energy using coal or natural gas and reduce carbon dioxide emissions into the
environment by roughly 90% [35]. While the United States is researching carbon capture
and sequestration, funding is currently not high enough to pursue a large-scale
demonstration [25]. However, this may soon change, and private businesses are also
looking into developing carbon capture technologies. If this alternative becomes viable
in the near future, it may encourage utilities to turn dirty coal plants (that release carbon
into the atmosphere) into clean coal plants (which use a carbon capture and sequestration
system), instead of switching to nuclear power. To find the more cost effective option,
the cost of carbon sequestration must be compared to the economic effects of a carbon
tax.
9.1 Carbon Capture
Currently, the most common carbon capture technology for power plants is postcombustion carbon capture. Power plants use air-fired combustors, which produce a
mixed flue gas of carbon dioxide and nitrogen. In coal plants, 10-12% of the flue gas is
carbon dioxide, and in natural gas plants, 3-6% is carbon dioxide [36].
The carbon
dioxide from ithis gas is then absorbed by amines [37].
Another method is pre-combustion carbon capture. Pre-combustion carbon capture has
been commonly used in fertilizer and gaseous fuels. In this technique, fuel is turned into
hydrogen (fuel gas) and carbon monoxide. The carbon monoxide is then made into
carbon dioxide using shift conversion processes, which gives a 25-40% carbon dioxide
stream and a hydrogen stream [37]. The carbon dioxide is then separated out using
solvent scrubbing.
The third method of carbon capture is oxy-fuel combustion. This method removes the
nitrogen from the air, raising the flue gas carbon dioxide concentration to over 80% [37].
Gas purification can raise this even higher. This technology has not yet been applied to
power plants., but it is still being developed.
These three methods, and industrial
processes that have not yet been fully developed are shown in Figure 10.
Figure 10. Carbon Dioxide Capture Processes [38].
9.2 Carbon Transport
After the carbon dioxide is removed from the stream, it must be transported to a storage
site. The most common and most cost effective form of transport is by pipeline, but
when pipelines are not available, transport is done by ship [39]. Both of these methods
are currently in use for carbon dioxide transport.
9.3 CarbonStorage
Carbon dioxide is transported to one of three types of storage sites-geological storage,
ocean storage, or mineral storage. Each one works in a different way and each has it's
own type of leakage risk.
9.3.1 Geological Storage
Geological storage, or geo-sequestration, is the process of injecting carbon dioxide into
geological formations, deep beneath the Earth's crust. It relies on naturally occurring
geology, such as impermeable caprock, to keep the carbon dioxide from leaking up to the
surface.
There are several possible geological storage sites. First, injecting carbon dioxide into oil
and gas reserves can help increase oil recovery. This is a popular choice, because some
of the storage cost is recovered through the revenue of additional oil sales. This option,
however, may not capable of handling large volumes of carbon dioxide. Next, saline
formations are an attractive choice because of their high volume storage capability. They
are also fairly common, so transport costs can be minimized. The main drawback to
saline formations is the lack of research on using them for carbon dioxide storage,
including probability of leakage. Finally, carbon dioxide can be injected into unminable
coal beds, where it will be absorbed by the coal. This is not always possible, because not
all coal beds are permeable by injection. But this technique does cause methane gas to be
released, and the sales of this gas can help pay for carbon dioxide storage. Research done
by the International Panel on Climate Change suggests that these geological storage
methods will trap 99% of injected carbon dioxide for over 1000 years [40]. All three of
these techniques are illustrated in Figure 11.
Figure 11. Geological Storage of Carbon Dioxide [38].
9.3.2 Ocean Storage
There are two ways that carbon dioxide can be stored in the ocean. The first, called
dissolution, involves injecting carbon dioxide at depths of at least 1000 meters into the
ocean. The carbon dioxide dissolves and circulates with the ocean water. The second
method, called lake storage, injects carbon dioxide into the ocean at depths greater than
3000 meters. Below 3000 meters, carbon dioxide is denser than water, so it does not rise
to the surface, but instead forms a "lake" at the bottom. Due to water circulation, both of
these methods have negative effects. Although the level of carbon dioxide storage is
determined by depth, the IPCC estimates that only 30-85% of the injected carbon dioxide
will remained trapped after 500 years [41]. Figure 12 illustrates both methods of ocean
storage.
Figure 12. Ocean Storage of Carbon Dioxide [381.
9.3.3 Minerall Storage
Mineral storage injects carbon dioxide into stable minerals. Carbon dioxide reacts with
metal oxides, forming stable carbonates. Although this process occurs naturally, it takes
a very long time. In order to speed up the process and make it more manageable, the
minerals must be pre-treated. Although this method uses the most energy of any type of
storage (up to 180% more power than a dirty coal plant [42]), there is thought to be no
risk of carbon dioxide leakage to the environment.
9.4 Cost
The cost of carbon capture, with current technologies, will increase the cost of electricity
by $0.025 to $0.04/kwhr [36].
This is roughly equivalent to a cost of $150/tC.
In
addition, transport and storage will cost a minimum of $10/tC [34], placing the total cost
of capture and sequestration at a minimum of $160/tC. This is more expensive for every
calculated carbon tax, except the taxes to make nuclear energy 20% less expensive than
the alternative:s at the highest two possible nuclear plant construction costs.
This conclusion, however, assumes that the carbon output rate for a dirty coal plant is the
same as that for a clean coal plant. But because a clean coal plant requires much more
energy than a dirty one, it creates more carbon, as seen in Figure 13. More carbon is
created, so more must be captured, transported, and stored.
In addition, a larger
percentage of the energy produced is needed to run the plant. Overall, more carbon is
generated, and total output power of the plant lower. The utility spends more money
capturing carbon, and generates less revenue because it has less electricity to sell. With
current technologies, in almost every scenario, nuclear energy is more cost effective than
a clean coal energy.
Figure 13. Carbon Dioxide Production for a Pulverized Coal Plant and a CCS Coal
Plant.
10. An Alternative for Policy Makers--Cap and Trade
An alternate way to control power plant carbon dioxide emissions is emissions trading,
also known as cap and trade. In this system, the government sets a limit, or cap, on the
amount of carbon that can be released into the environment. The cap amount is then
divided into allowances, or credits, which are distributed among utilities. These credits
work much like vouchers, allowing utilities to emit a certain amount of carbon. Utilities
can only emit as much carbon as they have credits. If a utility wishes to exceed its limit,
it is forced to buy credits from other utilities that are not using all of their allowances.
Buying another utility's credits is called a trade.
The idea of cap and trade is to lower carbon emissions. Over time, it is likely that policy
makers would gradually lower the cap, by reducing the value of each credit.
An
alternative would be to retire a percentage of traded credits, meaning that the cap would
be naturally lowered each time a trade was made.
The most obvious difference between a carbon tax and a cap and trade system is that
under the carbon tax, a utility must pay to emit any amount of carbon, while under cap
and trade, a utility is allowed a certain level of emissions with no penalty. If the utility
exceeds this level, however, it is forced to buy credits from other utilities. This is of
particular note to policy makers, because under a carbon tax, the government is collecting
revenue, while under a cap and trade system, the benefactor is the utility that is selling
it's extra credits.
The idea of utilities profiting under cap and trade leads to the question of which policy
will more encourage utilities to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions. Under a carbon
tax, a utility must pay for any amount of carbon released. This motivates the utility to not
emit any at all. Under a cap and trade system, a utility is allowed to emit a pre-set
amount of carbon with no financial loss and possible financial gain if they switch to nonemitting sources and sell their credits. When a utility does not release it's full allowance
of carbon, it has credits to sell to other utilities. Eliminating emissions completely under
a carbon tax prevents the utility from having to pay the tax; under a cap and trade system,
it allows the company to generate extra revenue. While both systems will likely raise the
cost of electricity, a carbon tax will allow for the revenue to go back to the public through
tax-shifting and environmental program benefits, while cap and trade will channel
revenues to utility companies.
10.1 Current Cap and Trade Systems
Carbon dioxide cap and trade systems are in place in both the European Union and the
United States.
10.1.1 European Union
The European Union currently has the largest carbon dioxide cap and trade system. In an
effort to reduce carbon dioxide emissions as outlined by the Kyoto agreement, the
program began in December 2002. The 25 member states are each allowed to set their
own caps, and allocations for the 11,500 polluting installations are set based on historic
emission rates [43]. Distributing allocations this way means that nuclear power is not
given any credits [44]. While historic polluters can benefit from switching to nuclear,
those who are already using nuclear energy are not able to generate revenue by selling
their credits.
Allowing member states to set their own limits has been the object of much criticism.
After some initial success, utilities realized that the market contained an excess of
allowances, in relation to the amount of carbon being released. At the end of 2005, the
system had a 2.4% excess of allowances. Because members are allowed to keep excess
credits, this surplus will keep the cost of carbon emissions low until 2007 [45]. In A
Convenient Windfall: Global Warming's Big Cash Dividend, environmentalist Peter
Barnes summed up many of the criticisms of the European Union's cap and trade, saying,
"The undisputed results were windfall profits for the utilities, higher prices for everyone
else, and zero public benefit" [46].
10.1.2 United States
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative is the first carbon dioxide cap and trade program
to be implemented in the United States. Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, New Hampshire,
New Jersey, New York, and Vermont all voluntarily signed a Memorandum of
Understanding on December 20, 2005 [47].
Unlike the European Union, the cap is
regulated. Beginning in 2009, states must stabilize their carbon dioxide emissions level,
by keeping it at the current level until 2015. In 2019, emissions must be reduced by 10%
[48].
This program also differs from the European Union in the treatment of nuclear plants.
All sources of electricity are assigned credits equally, including nuclear power [49]. This
allows utilities using nuclear power to benefit from the cap and trade system, by selling
credits and generating revenue.
10.2 Cost
The European Union cap and trade program started at about $40/tC, but since realizing
the surplus of credits, the price has fallen to $12/tC [50]. This is lower than all calculated
carbon taxes. Such a low price is unlikely to motivate utilities to switch to nuclear power
or to reduce their carbon emissions by any method. A utility that switches to nuclear
power will be eligible to receive revenue from its allocated credits, under a system like
the one in the United States. Depending on the cap and trade system and the number of
credits given to each utility, this additional revenue may cause a utility to move to nuclear
power, but until the exact system is known, these effects are unclear.
11.0 Conclusions
The increase in carbon dioxide in the environment is undeniably driven largely by the use
of fossil fuels, a majority of which is from power production. Of the three main energy
production methods in the United States, only nuclear power does not emit carbon
dioxide into the environment. While only 17% of electricity produced in the United
States is generated using nuclear power, a carbon tax or other carbon policy could
incentivize utilities to shift to non-carbon dioxide emitting technologies.
Carbon taxes are an effective method of incentivizing utilities to switch to nuclear power
from coal or natural gas. The level of the tax needed to move utilities to nuclear energy
depends on capital costs of new plants and the "risk perception" premium as seen by
utilities. Capital costs will dictate the overall cost of nuclear power, and the "risk
perception" premium will determine how much lower the cost of nuclear generated
electricity will have to be for utilities to consider switching to nuclear power. The full
range of carbon tax scenarios are developed in this thesis, with the most likely carbon tax
being $110/tC. This cost assumes a $1800/kW capital construction cost and a 10% risk
perception premium on the bus bar cost of power to address the financial and the industry
community's somewhat negative perception of nuclear investments.
If a carbon tax is legislated, it is likely that it will be less costly than the cost of carbon
capture and sequestration. The practicality and costs of carbon capture and sequestration
are not sufficiently developed to make credible estimates of its value in reducing overall
carbon emissions.
Legislatures may also choose to implement a cap and trade policy. While this method is
currently in effect in the European Union, it is unlikely to create the needed incentives to
move utilities to lower carbon emissions technologies. Instead, it will benefit utilities
financially at the expense of the consumer, with little carbon dioxide reduction benefits in
the near term unless the caps are significantly reduced. Therefore, a carbon tax is more
beneficial to the environment, as it will more effectively cause utilities to switch from
coal or natural gas to nuclear power.
References
[1]
Energy Information Administration. State Electricity Profiles 1998-2005.
Washington, D.C.: 2006.
[2]
R. Tol, "The Marginal Damage Costs of Carbon Dioxide Emissions: An
Assessment of the Uncertainties." Pittsburgh, PA: 2004.
[3]
M. Lavelle. "The Growing Trade in Carbon Emissions Offers Hope as a
Pollution Solution." U.S. News and World Report. December 10, 2006.
[4]
T. Kahn, "Viability of an Expanded United States Nuclear Power Program and its
Effects on Energy Markets." Thesis. Cambridge, MA: 2006.
[5]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Carbon Dioxide Capture and
Storage. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge, UK: 2005.
[6]
Energy Information Administration, "Monthly Energy Review." February 2007.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/mer/pdf/pages/secl 7.pdf
[7]
Energy Information Administration, "Top World Oil Net Exporters." 2005.
http://www.eia.doe.gov/emeu/cabs/topworldtables1 2.html
[8]
Central Intelligence Agency. The World Factbook 2004. "Rank Order-OilConsumption." 2004.
html
https://www.cia.gov/cialpublications/factbook/rankorder/2174rank.
[9]
Energy Information Administration. "Net Generation by Energy Source by Type
of Producer." October 2006.
[10]
Illinois Clean Coal Institute. "Coal Questions & Answers."
http://www.icci.org/q&a.html
[11]
Natural Resources Defense Council. "Global Warming Basics."
http://www. nrdc. org/globalWarming/fl 01 .asp
[12]
Department of Energy. Carbon Dioxide Emissions from the Generation of
Electric Power. Washington, D.C.: 2000.
[13]
U.S. Department of the Interior. "Secretary Norton Highlights Interior Initiatives
to Address Natural Gas Crisis." July 22, 2003.
[14]
Public Service Enterprise Group Incorporated. "The Advantages of Natural Gas."
sp
http://www.pseg.com/customer/business/industrial/convert/advantages.j
[15]
The Ux Consulting Company, LLC. "World Uranium Production."
http://wvww.uxc.com/fuelcycle/uranium/production-uranium.html
[16]
MSU Physics and Astronomy Department. "How Does Carbon Dioxide Cause
Global Warming?" http://www.pa.msu.edu/sciencet/ask st/083194.html
[17]
R. Rhode, Global Warming Art, "The Global Warming Art Project."
http://Iwww.globalwarmingart.com/wiki/Image:Global
Carbon Emission by Typ
e png
[18]
D. Shukman, "Sharp Rise in CO 2 Levels Recorded." BBC News. March 14,
2006.
[19]
Global Monitoring Division. "Trends in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide-Mauna
Loa." Earth System Research Laboratory. 2007.
[20]
Energy Information Administration. "Kyoto."
http://w•ww.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/kyoto/kyotorpt.html
[21]
Energy Information Administration. Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the
United States 2001. "2. Carbon Dioxide Emissions." May 2003.
[22]
Natural Gas Prices. http://www.naturalgasprice.net
[23]
Nuclear Energy Institute. "Costs: Operating / Building / Waste Disposal." 2006.
[24]
Energy Information Administration. "Coal News and Markets."
http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/coal/page/coalnews/coalmar.html
[25]
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Future of Coal: An Interdisciplinary
MIT Study. Cambridge, MA: 2007.
[26]
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The Future of Nuclear Power: An
Interdisciplinar MIT Study. Cambridge, MA: 2003.
[27]
Nuclear Energy Institute. "Nuclear or Fossil?" October 2004.
[28]
The University of Chicago. The Economic Future of Nuclear Power: A Study
Conducted at the University of Chicago. Chicago, IL: 2004.
[29]
S. Wade. "Price Responsiveness in the NEMS Building Sector Model."
http://www.eia.doe.gov/oiaf/issues/building sector.html
[30]
Nuclear Energy Institute. "Nuclear Value Chain."
http://www.nei.org/index.asp?catnum=2&catid=50
[31]
G. Rothwell. "The Optimal Lifetime of Nuclear Power Plants." Stanford
University. December 1995.
[32]
Union of Concerned Scientists. "Cap and Trade Systems." Catalyst. Volume
4, Number 1. Spring 2005.
[33]
Progress Energy. "An Overview of the Nuclear Licensing Process."
http://www.progress-energy.com/aboutenergy/poweringthefuture
florida/
levy/col.pdf
[34]
Nuclear Energy Institute. "Perspectives on Public Opinion." July 2005.
[35]
J.David. "The Cost of Carbon Capture." Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Cambridge, MA.
[36]
Department of Energy. "Fossil Energy: Carbon Capture and Separation. Carbon
Capture Research." http://www.fossil.energy.gov/programs/sequestration/capture/
[37]
M. Gupta. "CO 2 Capture Technologies and Opportunities in Canada." CANMET
Energy Technology Centre. Calgary, Alberta, Canada: September 2003.
[38]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC Special Report on Carbon
Dioxide Capture and Storage. "Graphics of the Special Report."
http://vww. ipcc.ch/present/graphics. htm
[39]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC Special Report on Carbon
Dioxide Capture and Storage. "Chapter 4: Transport of CO 2 ."
http://arch.rivm.nl/env/int/ipcc/pages media/SRCCS-final/SRCCS Chapter4.pdf
[40]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC Special Report on Carbon
Dioxide Capture and Storage. "Chapter 5: Underground Geological Storage."
http://arch.rivm.nl/env/int/ipcc/pages media/SRCCS-final/SRCCS Chapter5.pdf
[41]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC Special Report on Carbon
Dioxide Capture and Storage. "Chapter 6: Ocean Storage."
http://arch.rivm.nl/env/int/ipc/pages media/SRCCS-final/SRCCS Chapter6.pdf
[42]
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. IPCC Special Report on Carbon
Dioxide Capture and Storage. "Chapter 7: Mineral Carbonation and Industrial
Uses of CO 2." http://www.ipcc.ch/present/graphics.htm
[43]
Environment Northeast. The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. "Summary of
the Final Policy Design." 2006.
[44]
Energy Business Review Online. "Nuclear Inclusion in Emissions Trading
Would Shift Goalposts." May 30, 2006. http://www.enerag-businessreview.com/article feature.asp?guid=0858A898-8336-4DFC-8177B328D1AFB567
[45]
European Utilities: The EU Emissions Trading Scheme Will Fail to Deliver.
2006. http://www.bharatbook.com/detail.asp?id=2365&publisher=
[46]
P. Barnes. "A Convenient Windfall: Global Warming's Big Cash Dividend."
CommnonDreams.Org. March 23, 2007.
[47]
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. http://www.rggi.org/
[48]
Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative. "Memorandum of Understanding."
http://www.rggi.org/docs/mou 12 20 05.pdf
[49]
Nuclear Energy Institute. "Nuclear Energy and the Environment." January 2007.
http://www.nei.org/doc.asp?catnum=3&catid=267
[50]
M. Lavelle. "The Market to Clear the Air: The Growing Trade in Carbon
Emissions Offers Hope as a Pollution Solution." USNews.com. December 10,
2006. http://www.usnews.com/usnews/biztech/articles/061210/18carbon.htm